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Mark Teixeira has no love lost for ‘cheap’ Vicente Padilla but all the respect for Red Sox 07.07.12 at 1:10 am ET
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The bad feelings between Mark Teixeira and Vicente Padilla began in 2006 when they were teammates on the Rangers. (AP)

Mark Teixeira connected for what proved to be the game-winning two-run triple in a four-run seventh Friday night in New York’s 10-8 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Afterward, he took an even bigger swing at the man who threw the pitch, Red Sox reliever Vicente Padilla, a hurler who has a reputation throughout baseball of throwing at batters.

“Game-winning hits always feel good. But that one definitely felt real good,” Teixeira said. “I was making some jokes. I have to kind of get in line. He doesn’t have a lot of friends in the game but it was just a big win against an archrival. First game of a long series and we know it’s going to be a very tough series so it’s good to get this first one.

“He’s not going to want to mess around with this at-bat. Almost every at-bat he tries to throw at your head or tries to throw behind you or something screwy. But with first and second and the game on the line, he’s not going to do it then so I could actually dig in and look for a good pitch to hit.”

[Click here to listen to Mark Teixeira rip into Vicente Padilla.]

Teixeira and Padilla were teammates on the Rangers in 2006 and half of 2007 before Teixeira was traded to the Braves. Teixeira asked Padilla to stop hitting batters since he was constantly getting plunked in retaliation. Padilla refused. On Friday, Andrew Miller put two runners on in the seventh before striking out Robinson Cano. Bobby Valentine then pulled a surprise and had Padilla face Teixeira.

“I didn’t really even notice because I was worried about Miller throwing 97,” Teixeira said. “This guy is a big lefty, throwing 97, just struck out Cano. I wasn’t even thinking they were going to bring in somebody else so I was kind of getting in my right-handed mode to think about how I was going to hit against Miller. I was very surprised they brought in Padilla.”

Teixeira was very confident that he was not in physical danger in the situaiton that faced him in the seventh, with the Red Sox leading, 7-6. Padilla had allowed just one inherited runner to score all season and had a career-best 13-game scoreless streak on the line. Padilla allowed two of the four runs in New York’s seventh inning, his first two runs since May 23 at Baltimore.

“100 percent [safe], 100 percent, and he’s been pitching really well, too, so I didn’t think he would be messing around there,” Teixeira said. “It was definitely one of those at-bats where I knew I was going to get a pitch to hit.

“No one on and they have a three-run lead, yeah, I’m probably thinking he’s going to try and mess around and do what he does,” Teixeira said. “But in that situation I don’t think he’s trying to put any more players on. The game’s on the line there.

“The guy throws at people, fact of the matter. I’m not saying anything that’s news. It is what it is. I’ve always been someone who wants to play the game the right way. You play hard, you don’t play cheap. I’ve always just lived that way, too. Some guys decide to take matters into their own hands. In the NFL, he’d probably be suspended by Roger Goodell eight games, or a whole season but this is baseball.

“There’s only one guy in baseball. No one else does this,” Teixeira said. “That’s the thing that’s unbelievable to me. No one else in baseball does this. Whether he’s changed his ways, I hope he does, and that’s great, because he’s a good pitcher. The guy’s got really good stuff and it’d be nice to talk to him as a baseball player, not someone who throws at people.”

But his animosity toward Padilla didn’t keep Teixeira from showering the rest of the Red Sox with praise.

“It’s a little different but they still have some big names,” Teixeira said of the injury-riddled Red Sox. “I’ve never seen David Ortiz so locked in. They still have Adrian Gonzalez. You still have some good players over there. And the guys they brought in to replace the [disabled] players, they stepped up today with some big hits. It doesn’t matter who’s over there. They still have the “Red Sox” on their chest and they’re going to play hard.”

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Dustin Pedroia says he ‘heals great’, Will Middlebrooks feels better and other Red Sox notes 07.06.12 at 8:43 pm ET
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Will Middlebrooks hopes to be back up to speed sometime this weekend. (AP)

Dustin Pedroia went on the disabled list Friday afternoon but the Red Sox are hoping Will Middlebrooks won’t be following him with a sore left hamstring.

Pedroia was sporting a hard cast on his right hand to protect his thumb while Middlebrooks took batting practice on Friday after a sluggish off-day on Thursday when he reported to Fenway to test his left hamstring.

“Will was out [Thursday],” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “He felt about 70 percent. He felt just OK. He ran [before Friday's game], he felt closer to 100 percent so that’s where he is. He’s close. There’s a chance he could pinch-hit for sure this weekend.”

Middlebrooks – a candidate for AL Rookie of the Year with 10 homers, 37 RBIs and a .298 batting average – hasn’t played since Sunday’s 2-1 win in Seattle, sitting out all three games in Oakland with the tightness in the back of his left leg.

As for Pedroia, the Red Sox released a formal statement just after placing the second baseman on the 15-day disabled list with a right thumb injury. The team made a point of noting that this injury is new and unrelated to the torn adductor on the same thumb earlier this season. That injury, according to the team, has healed. Pedroia injured the thumb diving for a pop fly single to shallow right field in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss in Oakland.

“Dustin Pedroia hyperextended his right thumb on July 3, 2012,” the statement read. “He was examined by the Red Sox medical staff and an MRI was performed. Dustin sustained an injury to the volar plate of his right thumb. Dustin will be treated conservatively with a brief period of immobilization. The previous injury to his right thumb adductor muscle has completely healed. This was confirmed by MRI.”

[Click here to listen to Dustin Pedroia explain his latest stint on the DL with a thumb injury.]

Pedroia was placed on the disabled list retroactive to Wednesday while Pedro Ciriaco was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take his place.

Pedroia said he wasn’t surprised that his previous injury had completely healed, citing his recent production at the plate as an example of the progress.

“My other injury is healed. It’s 100 percent healed, and I could tell because I was hitting balls in the air to the pull-side. That’s a big thing because it means my bat speed is fine,” he said. “That’s the part that’s frustrating. I was about to get on a huge run the rest of the way, like I always do, and this happens. But there is still a lot of games left, I’ll heal this thing up, get out there and it will make a huge difference.

“I’m a lizard. I heal while I play. I’m a freak healer. I heal great.”

The MRI of Pedroia’s thumb was being examined by hand specialists Dr. Donald Sheridan and Dr. Thomas Graham Friday for second opinions.

“It’s just a bad break. I don’t know,” he said. “I’m pretty frustrated by it. You work so hard in the offseason to prevent injury and you get a couple of freak accidents, same thumb. It stinks. I’ll be fine. I’ll produce in a major way this season to help our team, I promise you guys that.”

Carl Crawford (left elbow) spoke before Friday’s game with the Yankees and is expected to join Triple-A Pawtucket over the weekend. So far in eight minor league rehab games, Crawford is 7-for-24 (.292) with a double, a triple, four runs scored and seven walks, playing most recently for Double-A Portland.

Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) continued his rehab on Friday in Portland.

“There’s not [minor league] games during the All-Star break so they’ll play as often as the schedule allows them,” Valentine said. “Maybe we’ll do a little simulation here. I don’t know. I don’t know how many guys are sticking around.”

Scott Podsednik was activated from the disabled list on Friday and immediately optioned to Pawtucket, likely in advance of him getting called up to Boston for Saturday for the day-night doubleheader, when rosters, under the new collective bargaining agreement, are allowed to expand to 26 players for the day.

Clay Buchholz (esophogitis) threw a side session on Friday afternoon and Valentine indicated he could re-join the rotation “late” in the first rotation through or “early in the second” rotation.

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Mariners matchups: Franklin Morales vs. Felix Hernandez 06.28.12 at 8:22 am ET
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Franklin Morales

Thursday night marks the beginning of a seven-game West Coast tour for the Red Sox. Boston hasn’t had a day off since June 18 and won’t get one until July 5, but the workload doesn’t appear to wearing the team down — so far, anyway.  The Sox have won 11 of their last 14 games and, at 40-35, are five games over .500 for the first time this season.

This trip may be a long one, but once in Seattle the Sox have the good fortune of facing a Mariners club that is dead last in its division and ranks in the bottom half of the league in nearly every major offensive and pitching category.

After spending the bulk of his five-plus seasons as a reliever, Franklin Morales (1-1) will make his third straight start. The 26-year-old pitched well in his first two starts, going five innings and allowing two earned runs with nine strikeouts in a 7-4 Sox win over the Cubs on June 17, and giving up three runs (two earned) over six innings with eight strikeouts in an 8-4 win over the Braves on June 23. The latter earned Morales his first win of the year.

Granted, his total of 34 2/3 innings pitched isn’t a large enough sample to make a fair comparison, but it’s at least worth noting that Morales’ 3.12 ERA is best among Sox starters by more than a run. How he fares as his innings increase will be important to watch, as Morales has never pitched more than 46 innings in a season.

Having spent the majority of his career with Colorado before joining the Sox in May of last season, Morales has only faced the Mariners three times, all in relief appearances. The current Mariners lineup has a total of two hits and zero RBIs in just seven plate appearances against the lefty.

Facing off against Morales is fellow 26-year-old Venezuelan Felix Hernandez. After an up-and-down season, King Felix appears to be rounding into the form that earned him the 2010 Cy Young award, going seven innings and allowing just one earned run in each of his last two starts. He’s also been fantastic at home this season, with a 2.52 ERA and 51 strikeouts to just 13 walks in 50 innings.

Overall, Hernandez in 5-5 in 15 starts this season, with an ERA of 3.36, 11th best in the AL. He also ranks sixth in the AL with 101 2/3 innings pitched while his 101 strikeouts are good for fifth.

In his career, Hernandez is 5-2 against the Red Sox with an ERA of 3.55 and 63 strikeouts in 76 innings. The current Boston lineup is hitting a collective .269 off the righty, with 14 RBIs and 40 strikeouts in 162 plate appearances.

Adrian Gonzalez (11-for-36, 6 RBIs), Dustin Pedroia (10-for-28, 1 double, 1 home run, 3 RBIs) and Mike Aviles (5-for-11, 1 double, 1 RBI) have posted impressive numbers against Hernandez.

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Ben Cherington on D&C: Kevin Youkilis trade ‘best for everyone’ 06.25.12 at 10:47 am ET
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Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s trade of Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox, Clay Buchholz’s trip to the 15-day DL with a gastrointestinal disorder, David Ortiz’s role in the clubhouse and more.

Cherington told John Dennis and Dale Arnold, sitting in for the vacationing Gerry Callahan, that he felt Sunday’s dramatic day at Fenway played out well, thanks to a Sox win and an ovation for Youkilis.

“It was a busy few days,” Cherington said. “We were working hard to find a resolution and give our clubhouse and our manager a chance to get a little bit more stability back to our lineup and to find an opportunity for Kevin to get a fresh start.”

While Cherington said he had told Youkilis that the Red Sox were talking to teams about a trade a handful of times over the last two or three weeks, it was only in the last few days that they began to push for one in earnest.

“We got to a point several days ago where we decided ‘you know what, this might be the best thing, if there is a trade that we could find, it may be the best thing for everyone,’” Cherington said.  “We’ve got so much respect for Kevin, certainly personally, I do. I was the farm director when we joined the organization and he plays his heart out every day he gets in a Red Sox uniform so I wanted to see him get an opportunity, but the reality is, Will Middlebrooks deserves to play and Bobby [Valentine]’s got to put Middlebrooks in the lineup. And it made for a tough situation and we tried to make the best of it and move Adrian [Gonzalez] around, and try to mix and match to get guys in there but it wasn’t ideal so we decided if there was a trade we could find that made sense we would pursue it and we’ve been working on that for several days and it just so happened that the White Sox one was the one we liked the best.”

As to whether trading Youkilis would help ease reported tensions in the clubhouse, Cherington said he didn’t know exactly what the media was referring to but said “I think it was hard, I think it created a challenge for Bobby, certainly. You have guys, you know, that should be playing and you have too many guys for the spots in the lineup. That’s just the reality. When you have guys that can play every day and are sitting on the bench, at least one every night that maybe you shouldn’t have.”

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Monday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Henderson Alvarez at 9:14 am ET
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Felix Doubront

The Red Sox on Monday kick off a three-game series at Fenway Park against division rival Toronto. The Sox pushed past the Blue Jays and out of a tie for last place in the AL East on Sunday, and they’re looking to avoid falling back to the bottom.

On the mound for the Sox will be Felix Doubront, who has been a pleasant surprise all year, providing much-needed consistency for a starting rotation that has struggled with that. The 24-year-old lefty leads the team in wins (8, tied with Clay Buchholz), and strikeouts (85). His 4.31 ERA trails only Josh Beckett (4.14) among Sox starters.

Doubront struggled in his last outing, giving up four earned runs on nine hits in six innings against the Marlins at Fenway (although the Sox won the game, 15-5). His four strikeouts were his fewest since May 7. That he pitched far better in Miami a week earlier should come as no surprise, as Doubront has been far less effective at home, with a 5.59 ERA at Fenway compared to 3.19 ERA on the road.

Doubront has faced the Jays twice this season (both in Toronto), compiling a 1-0 record and 4.31 ERA. Career-wise, in 56 total plate appearances, the Blue Jays are hitting .269 against Doubront, with three home runs, seven RBIs and 13 strikeouts.

Fellow Venezuelan Henderson Alvarez will take the mound opposite Doubront. The 22-year-old is 3-6 with a 4.30 ERA in 14 starts this season and has particularly struggled in June, going 0-2 with a 6.29 ERA. His troubles actually date back to his last seven starts, during which time he is 0-4 with a 6.26 ERA.

Henderson features a fastball which he throws 72 percent of the time, a change up (18 percent) and a slider (10 percent). Though his fastball consistently reaches into the mid-to-upper 90s, Henderson does not generate many strikeouts, with just 27 on the season.

He has had some success against the Red Sox, holding them to a .217 batting average in 48 plate appearances. But when he faced them on June 1, he allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings and took the loss.

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Braves matchups: Aaron Cook vs. Mike Minor 06.24.12 at 12:02 pm ET
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Aaron Cook

In their final interleague game of the season, the Red Sox wrap up their series with the Braves Sunday afternoon at 1:35. Though still in last place in the division, Boston (37-34) enters Sunday’s game three games over .500 and is 8-2 over the last 10 games.

With Clay Buchholz out due to an undisclosed illness, 33-year-old Aaron Cook takes the mound for the Sox on Sunday, making just his second start of the season and his first since May 5. Boston is hoping Sunday’s start will go better for Cook (0-1), who posted a 20.25 ERA against the Orioles, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in just 2 1/3 innings en route to an 8-2 Sox loss.

In a play at home plate during that game, Cook opened up a nasty gash on his left knee, requiring 11 stitches and forcing the 10-year veteran to the 15-day disabled list.

Prior to joining the Sox in the offseason, Cook spent his entire career in the National League pitching for the Rockies, so he has a good deal of familiarity with Atlanta’s lineup, having faced 15 current Braves at least once.

Not surprisingly, 17-year vet Chipper Jones has faced Cook more than any other Brave. The switch-hitting future Hall of Famer is hitting .346 with three doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs and seven strikeouts in 29 career plate appearances.

Overall, the Braves are hitting .272 against Cook, with 16 RBIs and 16 strikeouts. Jones’ two home runs are the only two the Braves have off of Cook.

Atlanta (38-33) sends out 24-year-old Mike Minor for his 14th start of the season. The seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft, the former Vanderbilt hurler enters the game with a 3-5 record and an ERA of 6.04.

Minor had a decent April, going 2-2 with a 4.68 ERA, but struggled in May, giving up 28 earned runs in just 25 innings pitched for a 9.95 ERA. He’s been better in June with an ERA of 3.00 but struggled again in his outing, giving up four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Yankees on June 18.

Cody Ross is the only Boston player with a plate appearance against the lefty, going 2-for-3 with a double and a strikeout.

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Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish just worried about the here and now 06.22.12 at 1:23 am ET
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Will Middlebrooks is congratulated by Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) as Ryan Kalish looks on Thursday. (AP)

The more Daniel Nava and Ryan Kalish succeed, the more Red Sox fans are intrigued. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in Nava’s numbers, which include a .439 average in 14 June games including six multi-hit games that has him hitting .340 in 35 games overall. It’s easy to see Kalish race from first to third on a hit-and-run grounder off the bat of Mike Aviles in the eighth inning and say the Red Sox need that energy.

And it’s easy to wonder why – when Nava drives in Kalish with the go-ahead run on a broken bat single – both can’t stay with the Red Sox long term.

That’s not even mentioning Will Middlebrooks, who appears closer and closer to a full-time job as the Red Sox starting third baseman.

But with Nava and Kalish, it’s fascinating because of what is waiting in the wings several weeks down the road with Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. Both are getting ready for game activity as part of their rehab programs, including Crawford on Saturday in Florida.

“I’ve been aware of it since I got called up and so I know it’s a reality,” Nava said after driving in the winning run in Boston’s 6-5 win over the Marlins. “It was a reality the last time I got called up. But if there’s anything I can do to help the team get back to where we’re hanging in there, those guys come back and have a shot, who knows where it’s going to go. I’m aware of it. I think anyone who gets called up and doesn’t have a big contract, it’s a reality.”

The reality is that left fielder Carl Crawford has yet to play a game in the second season of a seven-year, $142 million deal. The reality is that Jacoby Ellsbury is an All-Star caliber center fielder who finished just behind Justin Verlander in the American League MVP voting in 2011 and is making $8 million this season.

Nava, on the other hand, was signed to a minor league deal before spring training after making $417,500 in 2011. Kalish isn’t far behind. He’s making $483,000 this season. It’s assumed that one or both will head back to Triple-A Pawtucket when Crawford and Ellsbury return.

“Those decisions aren’t mine to make,” Nava said. “It can’t hurt but at the same time it’s not about me trying to put a feather in my cap. It’s about me trying to say, ‘Hey, this is something I did to help the team win’ and get in the right direction. They’ll make the decisions they have to make and whatever they think will help the team is what they’re going to do.”

“It’s awesome,” Kalish said of Nava and Middlebrooks. “They’ve been here a while and they’ve been doing since the day they got here. As young guys, that’s all you want to do, you want to bring fire and spark people.”

Never was that spark more evident than when Kalish went first-to-third on a hit-and-run grounder by Mike Aviles to the second baseman to set up the game-winning run in the eighth.

“If I don’t feel that true aggressive feeling of no regrets, then I’m not going to try it,” Kalish said. “But on that play, I felt really confident about it.”

Nava and Kalish’s teammates appreciate their hustle. Read the rest of this entry »

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